New Teaching and Learning Center to Transform Health Education at UCSF

By Lisa Cisneros on January 19, 2011
UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann cuts the ribbonUCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the opening of the Teaching and Learning Center while campus leaders and students look on during the weeklong celebration in the library on the Parnassus campus.
UCSF celebrated on Tuesday the opening of the Teaching and Learning Center, a technologically enhanced education environment that promises to transform the training of future health professionals. Faculty and staff from all four professional schools, the library, Student Academic Affairs and students themselves helped make the new center a reality – a long-awaited and much-needed expansion of UCSF’s educational facilities on the Parnassus campus. The Teaching and Learning Center is one of the first of its kind in the nation to foster the integration of telemedicine and simulation-based training of future dentists, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists. The 22,000-square-foot center includes 12 high-tech classrooms and clinical exam rooms, 10 full body mannequin simulators, and telemedicine facilities. It will serve more than 2,500 students annually. “In designing this facility, we wanted space that would support collaboration, student-centered and team-based learning, and the pervasive use of technology,” said University Librarian Karen Butter, who co-chaired a library education space committee along with Helen Loeser, MD, MSc, associate dean of the UCSF School of Medicine. “This center will provide a firm foundation for innovations in teaching and learning.” Butter welcomed members of the UCSF community to the dedication ceremony during the first day of weeklong activities planned to showcase the state-of-the-art center and the myriad ways in which it will be used to augment interprofessional learning, simulation-based and telemedicine training. The opening of the $15.5 million Teaching and Learning Center is a great example of one of UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann’s top priorities – education – and the University’s commitment to invest in the tools and technology necessary to offer smart and sophisticated learning environments. The Teaching and Learning Center will keep UCSF on the “forefront of health sciences education and will spur innovation in teaching and curricular development,” said Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, who added that the “educational possibilities are endless.”

Expanding Interprofessional Health Education

The opening of the Teaching and Learning Center coincides with the launch of a new Center for Excellence in Interprofessional Health Education, an initiative that will expand on efforts already underway at UCSF to encourage students from all four professional schools to work together to provide high-quality patient care.
Jeff Kilmer, Sally Rankin and Rich FidlerSally Rankin, center, interim dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, takes her turn testing equipment in one of the new simulation rooms at the Teaching and Learning Center along with Jeff Kilmer, left, interim director of Education Technology Services in Student Academic Affairs, and Rich Fidler, director of the Sim Center at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Interprofessional health education teaches students the skills needed to fully collaborate and communicate proficiently in a way that prepares them for the teamwork required to succeed in today’s health care environment and to improve health outcomes. “The Teaching and Learning Center offers inspiration and technologies to develop the curricula we need to prepare the health care leaders that our society needs – approaching health care from an interdisciplinary and collaborative perspective,” said Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, executive vice chancellor and provost. Bluestone said that both the Teaching and Learning Center and the Center for Excellence in Interprofessional Health Education better positions UCSF to meet growing demand for easy access to the latest education technologies; advance telemedicine training to serve all patients and reduce the gap between well and underserved communities; and build a safer health care system in part by developing students' skills through simulated clinical exercises. Sally Rankin, RN, PhD, FAAN, interim dean of the UCSF School of Nursing, said offering UCSF students more opportunities for interprofessional health education is an important development in the University’s bid for reaccreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Sophia Saeed, assistant clinical professor in the UCSF School of DentistrySophia Saeed, assistant clinical professor in the UCSF School of Dentistry and director of general practice residency, attends the “Technology in Education at UCSF” presentation at the Teaching and Learning Center open house.
Moreover, she said that encouraging students to work together as a team builds mutual respect among the health professions and minimizes the traditional hierarchy of their roles. Described as the realization of a dream come true, the Teaching and Learning Center marks a new beginning, one that will continue to draw upon the expertise of faculty in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy and, over time, the Graduate Division, to redefine the future of health education for years to come. “This endeavor reflects the best of what UCSF is – a learning community that plays well and works well together,” said David Irby, PhD, vice dean for Education in the UCSF School of Medicine. Butter pointed out that the timing for the high-technology center is right based on the US Department of Education’s National Technology Plan released in 2010. That plan noted that “the challenge of our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their future.” “We must now work together to reconceptualize campuswide education programs to maximize the use of this facility,” Butter said. Photos by Susan Merrell